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The Laboratory of Richard L. Huganir is interested in the mechanisms that regulate synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity. Our general approach is to study molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate neurotransmitter receptors and synapse function. We are currently focusing our efforts on the mechanisms that underlie the regulation of the glutamate receptors, the major excitatory neurotransmitter receptors in the brain.
Research in the Glowatzki Lab focuses on the auditory system, with a particular focus on synaptic transmission in the inner ear. Our lab is using dendritic patch clamp recordings to examine mechanisms of synaptic transmission at this first, critical synapse in the auditory pathway. With this technique, we can diagnose the molecular mechanisms of transmitter release at uniquely high resolution (this is the sole input to each afferent neuron), and relate them directly to the rich knowledge base of auditory signaling by single afferent neurons. We study pre- and post-synaptic mechanisms that determine auditory nerve fiber properties. This approach will help to study general principles of synaptic transmission and specifically to identify the molecular substrates for inherited auditory neuropathies and other cochlear dysfunctions.
Neuromodulation and Advanced Therapies CenterWe investigate the brain networks and neurotransmitters involved in symptoms of movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, and the mechanisms by which modulating these networks through electrical stimulation affects these symptoms. We are particularly interested in the mechanisms through which neuromodulation therapies like deep brain stimulation affect non-motor brain functions, such as cognitive function and mood. We use imaging of specific neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine and dopamine, to understand the changes in brain chemistry associated with the clinical effects of deep brain stimulation and to predict which patients are likely to have changes in non-motor symptoms following DBS. Through collaborations with our neurosurgery colleagues, we explore brain function by making recordings during DBS surgery during motor and non-motor tasks. Dr. Mills collaborates with researchers in the Department of Neurosurgery, the Division of Geriatric and Neuropsychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and in the Division of Nuclear Medicine within the Department of Radiology to translate neuroimaging and neurophysiology findings into clinical applications.
The Cochlear Neurotransmission Group studies the generation and propagation of neural signals in the inner ear. Our laboratories use biophysical, electrophysiological, molecular biological and histological methods to determine fundamental molecular mechanisms by which neurotransmitters are released from primary sensory cells ('hair cells') to excite second order neurons carrying information to the brain. We apply these same techniques to study inhibitory feedback produced by brain neurons that project to and regulate the sensitivity of the cochlea.